Divorcing British families are increasingly adopting a new US-created model of custody arrangements known as “birds nest custody”, which sees parents move in and out of the family home on a rotational basis.
In some cases, divorced parents also share the second home in a bid to keep down costs.
Two popular US TV series have highlighted the idea: The Affair, where a separating couple decides to take on the system themselves and Transparent, where a family has the model imposed on them by a court.
British courts are increasingly recommending shared parenting, rather than imposing custody on one parents, with the other coming to visitation arrangements.
Almost two thirds of people surveyed by Co-Operative Legal Services agreed that ‘birds nest custody’ will become more common, while almost a fifth of divorced and separated adults said if they had the chance again, they would put such an agreement in place. Half felt that keeping their children in the family home and rotating their living arrangements around them would have caused their offspring less upset and upheaval.
Tracey Moloney, head of private family at Co-op Legal Services: “Traditionally, where couples separate and have shared custody of their children, the marital home is sold and both parents each purchase or rent a new property. The children are then expected to move between both properties depending on whether they are at ‘mum’s’ or ‘dad’s’.
“What we’re starting to see is a new custody arrangement emerging where instead of disrupting the children’s home life, the parents do the moving.”
She added: “Moving from one parent’s property to another can be difficult for children. With this new custody arrangement, parents move in and out of the marital home depending on when they have custody of their children.
“Separation and divorce can be difficult and upsetting times for families. This new arrangement is very much about putting parents’ needs aside and focusing on the children.”